52 Hertz by Peleg Held

A lone cetacean, believed to be either a Blue Whale or a Fin Whale, has been tracked and recorded in the Pacific since 1989. A singer heard but never seen. The whale sings at a frequency unheard of for any known species. It has gone alone and unaswered, as far as we know,  for decades. 

52 Hertz

By fathomed sound we count you round
five thousand knots a year,
across trench and rift and otolith
we press our windwhipped ear

down, upon the blue womb wall,
and fashion what we hear—
a soul charcoaled on bulla bone,
an unmanned mind drawn near.

At every checkpoint monitored
from every spec of sphere,
unanswered cries come in from out.
The world’s a rumbling smear

of songs of lonely firsting-fire
and square-pegged bursts of queer
tolling under dark sea face,
each scrawling rawl a flare

appearing in the lower skies
to mark each mutineer
or call some flagging will to form,
some leaper to the shear.

Songs of lonely firsting fire
and square pegged burst of queer,
soundings all along the wall—
motherfuckers I am here.

by Peleg Held

Editor’s Note: Type 52 Hertz into Google and a plethora of links appear, eager to explain the mystery of a single, unidentified whale singing in the wrong frequency. This poem does a fabulous job of highlighting the regularity of the call via form: rhyme and iambic meter broken with enjambment and repetition.

Listen to the whale song.


One response to “52 Hertz by Peleg Held”

  1. Siham Karami Avatar

    This is a deeply moving and wonderfully written poem for a story that needs to be told. I was familiar with this whale, and this is a perfect expression for him.

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